The play-in tournament has been a hotly debated topic for the NBA community since its introduction last year. Metrics and revenue suggest that it is a great addition to the excitement building up to the playoffs but many players have voiced their displeasure, most notably Lebron James and Luka Doncic.

The strong counterargument is that most voices surfaced when their respective teams began to get affected by the said tournament. The Lakers for example are currently struggling and are in real danger of falling into the playing positions of the West. From a fantasy standpoint, I think it is slightly beneficial, as more teams are in the hunt for playoff qualification and so the effects of the usual silly season are less obvious with less random rest days and flat-out tanking from teams positioned 10th -12th.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Oshae Brissett is showing no signs of slowing down with excellent performances in his last games and even averaged 33 minutes in the two games Domantas Sabonis returned. He has been a real difference-maker in fantasy playoffs this year. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was serviceable and while Matisse Thybulle was clutch for those streaming him for stocks, as he accumulated six steals and five blocks in the three games he played last week. Finally, Terrence Ross predictably didn’t play at all and has no reason to be in any fantasy roster.

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I know the NBA is a business and players are professionals but I just can’t wrap my head around the Kevin Love situation in Cleveland. It all started with a panic move after Lebron left the Cavaliers in which they offered Love a four-year, $120 million contract. This has proven a burden for a rebuilding franchise that is unable to trade the oft-injured power forward and has resulted in frustration from both sides.

Just to be clear, this happened in a real game with the score very close. It must be really deflating to see it from his teammates’ point of view and hopefully, they work something out in the offseason to get him out of Cleveland, despite the fact that he still has two more years left in his contract.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bruce Brown balled out in the games the Nets were shorthanded and was an excellent streamer but can be safely dropped now that they are getting Kevin Durant back. Moe Harkless was another positive contributor and, unlike Brown, he still has value as his playing time seems relatively safe. The same can’t be said for De’Anthony Melton as his playing time is hovering around 20 minutes per game making him a borderline player to own.

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The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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Hey everybody, it’s me Keith! Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Blue’s Clues and every episode starts like that… Anyways, let’s get down to business.

It’s officially NBA silly season with the trade deadline already in distant memory, and plenty of teams are not super interested in winning basketball games right now. If a team can finish 10th and get into the play-in, they may be more interested in resting their guys and getting a better draft pick.

So which teams are doing that? And, more importantly, which players benefit the most from this shift?

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Now, this is what I’m talking about! Last Friday we were stuck with a handful of games that were blowout games that were done by the end of the first half. Completely uninteresting and lacking any kind of competitive spirit. This week we’ve got a few career-high performances, two overtime games, and a big-time walk-off buzzer-beater. This is what games under the Friday night lights should look like. Especially when nearly every team is still legitimately in the hunt for either a Top-8 seed in the playoff or for a shot in the Play-In tournament to make the postseason. With such a great night full of great performances, you know we have to highlight the players who shined the brightest. So, with that being said, here are some of the top performers who came up big last night. Let’s get right into it!

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It’s been just over a week since a friend of mine pointed me toward the Kevin Durant/Michael Rapaport beef that had bubbled up on social media. At the time, I somewhat gleefully read through their back and forth until I felt my emotions start to turn. KD, from all the stories I’ve heard and books that I’ve read, does not strike me as a happy man. The texts he sent to Rapaport support this. Then I saw the follow-up video that Rapaport put out that provide additional context for his spicy IG chat with Durant and I felt even worse. KD might be unhappy, but Rapaport strikes me as something far more distasteful than the aloof ennui of the unfathomably talented. After eating my fill of online garbage, I sent the following text to my buddy:

I wish I could get that time back. 

I can’t, obviously. None of us can. But what we can do is make up for the time lost, and Durant did just that in his return to NBA action on Wednesday night. All told, the Nets played 23 games since KD was last in uniform, but you wouldn’t have known that by watching him.

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It is said that patience is a virtue. Prepare my domicile in Hell then, Satan. I want instant satisfaction. Toothpaste oozing out? Grrr. Ketchup plastered to the bottom? Arrgh. Take a long drive to enjoy the scenery? Why haven’t we invented teleportation yet? After missing 25 games due to injury, we’ve been waiting for Bogdan Bogdanovic to start balling out. Drip. Drip. Drip. He played fewer than 20 minutes in two of the first three games back. That’s okay. It was expected and it would take some time to get back into the groove. Then 22 minutes. 26 minutes. OMG, it’s happening! 20 minutes. Sad face. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. Womp woooomp. 22 minutes. SAD face. 32 minutes, that frown turned upside down. This is it!!! He’s getting his first start……drum roll, please……21 minutes. WTF?! Last night, though, it finally happened:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 4 6 4 0 1 4/8 8/18 2/2

Started his third straight game and played 37 minutes. Oh, yeah! It’s on like Donkey Kong. Entering the season, I thought Atlanta would be one of the more fantasy-friendly teams in the league. Interestingly, they are playing at the 22nd-fastest pace after being fifth last season. Regardless, he’s risen to the top of the depth chart, relegating Kevin Huerter to the bench. As long as he gets the minutes, BogBog can provide points, tres, boards, some dimes, and steals. The shooting efficiency may not be great, though, as he’s a career 43% shooter from the field. 

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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It’s about that time again, isn’t it? The trade deadline has come and gone, the sun is starting to peek out with some regularity, and teams who have had long, dark, unsuccessful winters are beginning to look ahead to a little summer vacay. Even with the expanded playoff format for this season, there are still a handful of teams that are done. We haven’t gotten to “Cancun on three” yet, but if you’re in Orlando or Oklahoma City you can start thinking about it. 

For this week’s Hangin’, I looked at a couple of these lost causes and the opportunities for fantasy help that exist there. It’s not an exhaustive list, but all of the teams featured are 12th or worse in their conference and have gestured toward giving up. But just because they’re done with the year does not mean that the year is done with them. Every game needs to have 240 minutes of statistics accounted for, and we’re in the interest of compiling numbers. 

This is a bigger one, so let’s get to it. 

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Down goes Horford. We all lamented at the recent news of Al Horford getting shut down for the rest of the season, but it came as no surprise to some who have been playing fantasy basketball for going on two decades. The Oklahoma City Thunder have zero incentive to attempt to win basketball games as they try to squeeze the most value of their million draft picks.

The reality of this season is that COVID-19 continues to screw everything up. The second half of the season for every single NBA team this season is BRUTAL, with things like three games in four nights, and multiple back-to-backs. We are about to see a bunch of people sit out games they may have otherwise played.

In that same vein, we will likely see more shutdowns this season than ever before, as teams decide that playing for that playoff play-in isn’t as important as developing pieces for the future. We saw it with Al Horford, and we will see it again with other players.

But who will they be? Here is my best speculation:

*PLEASE NOTE: RECORDS AND STATS TAKEN BEFORE THE GAMES ON 3/28*

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The trade deadline is only a few days away, and we are pretty much guaranteed a trade or two that will shake up the NBA landscape. Whether you’re at the top of your league or near the bottom, stashing someone right now before it all goes down gives you a jump on the competition. Unless you can sit around all day waiting for the news, you need to have the foresight here to stash some folks and hope for the best.

Here are the top guys who should see their situation get better, in order of importance, with their respective percentages owned across Yahoo! leagues. We’ll be looking at projected 9-category value for this list, so it might be different if you’re playing a different format.

If you’re looking for an add, simply move down the list until you find someone who is available and go snag them and hope for the best, as long as you agree with my reasoning! Quick note: Most of these stats were gathered before the games on 3/21.

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